Initially I was concerned about entering the internship without a finance background as I thought I might be penalized for it, but I soon realized that people were willing to spend the time to educate me as long as I was willing to learn and work hard.
Although some of my family members were in finance, when I was young I did not feel a strong affiliation to the industry. It was not until my junior fall in college when I was invited to partake in a two day tour of a trading floor in New York that I became interested in the field and decided to apply for an internship.
What influenced my decision the most in applying for a sales role within the Securities division was finding what I thought was the best fit for me. I wanted to be in Asia, in a fast-paced environment, and in a role where I could interact with people; a sales position in Hong Kong made the most sense. It was through my internship that I confirmed that Research Sales was indeed the best fit for me.
As a double major in International Relations and East Asian Studies, I did not have much background in economics nor finance, but I have found that I am able to apply various skills that I have learned from my undergraduate concentrations to my work. As an equity salesperson, I need to be able to analyze what is happening on both a micro as well as macro level. My cross-disciplinary training in international and comparative perspectives has been useful when discussing important global issues and concerns.
During my first few days as an intern I noticed that people of all levels were focused on helping and training the junior people at the firm. Initially I was concerned about entering the internship without a finance background as I thought I might be penalized for it, but I soon realized that people were willing to spend the time to educate me as long as I was willing to learn and work hard. I was amazed at how flat the structure of my group was and how even the most senior people took a genuine interest in how I was doing. It’s hard to describe, but there is something about the firm’s team culture that made me want to join full-time.
A research salesperson’s job is quite simple in that you need to provide good ideas, do bespoke work, set up meetings, etc. But what separates a great salesperson from an average salesperson is being able to think creatively in order to add value. As every account and client is different, it takes creativity to think of what will be beneficial to each client that no one else on the street can provide.
An example of this was when I knew one of my clients was starting to take an interest in a specific sector in China so I proposed that we help them put together a three-day trip visiting companies and industry experts in Shanghai and Beijing. The challenge was that the client already had contacts and relationships with a few of the major companies in that industry so it was important for me to think outside the box and find other companies that the client did not know and that would be of interest to them. I worked very closely with our Corporate Access team and leveraged the contacts of our research analyst as well as those of our investment bankers, to find unique experts and high-level management officials. The work paid off and the trip ended up being a success.
The first official training I received after joining full-time was my analyst training in New York. During those six weeks I learned both hard and soft skills ranging from the basics of valuation and technical analysis, to making the most of the resources at the firm. What I enjoyed the most though was meeting all my peers throughout the various divisions globally. Now, when I have a question about a different product or a different region, I have a network that I can reach out to.
Throughout my time here, I have attended various classroom training courses held by our Goldman Sachs University team, in addition to taking some of the online courses to help further my education in different products, business units, and other topics. Aside from the official training we receive, I feel that the best training is on the job when I am learning from my colleagues and seniors.
Teamwork is crucial in my role as every day I need to communicate and work well with my team, the sales traders, and the research analysts. The more we work together and the more dialogue we have with each other, the greater the chance of finding a solution and better serving our clients.
Within the research sales team, we back each other up if someone is away or travelling, keep each other updated on what we are hearing from clients and share our thoughts on what’s happening in the market. Communication between sales and sales traders is also very critical as we usually cover the same accounts. Working with the various research analysts, strategists, and economists is also key to what we do as salespeople, as we need to be able to target the right ideas and views to the right clients. At the end of the day, this is a people business, and if you want to do well, you need to know how to work well with your clients externally and your peers internally.
One aspect that I like about Goldman Sachs is the presence of support groups such as the various affinity networks. The Women’s Network has been useful for me during my career as it’s an organization that I can turn to when I need guidance. I enjoy attending a lot of the events held by the Women’s Network in Hong Kong as it gives me a chance to hear what professional women inside and outside of the firm have to say on different aspects of work and life. The network provides a venue for me to reach out to other women at the firm informally without feeling awkward. Through this network I met my mentor and that proved to be helpful both personally and professionally.
Goldman Sachs knows that it has a responsibility to make a positive impact in its surrounding communities. In the past three to four years, I have experienced this via our Community TeamWorks program. Every year the firm allows our people a day out of the office to participate in a team-based community project with a nonprofit organization. In past years I have helped organize and pack boxes of excess goods that were distributed to countries in need, spent a day doing arts and crafts with children with special educational needs, helped Chinese students practice their English, and painted a mural for a kindergarten.
Another program that I feel demonstrates Goldman Sachs’ impact outside the firm is 10,000 Women. I was involved in this program as a mentor for a woman in Zhejiang, China who was looking for professional advice on how to advance her business and develop her management skills.